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Publication Detail
Changes in Internet use patterns among older adults in England from before to after the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic
  • Publication Type:
    Journal article
  • Authors:
    Kung CSJ, Steptoe A
  • Publisher:
    Springer Science and Business Media LLC
  • Publication date:
  • Journal:
    Scientific Reports
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  • Keywords:
    Epidemiology, Geriatrics
  • Notes:
    Tis article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, which permits use, sharing, adaptation, distribution and reproduction in any medium or format, as long as you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons licence, and indicate if changes were made. Te images or other third party material in this article are included in the article’s Creative Commons licence, unless indicated otherwise in a credit line to the material. If material is not included in the article’s © Te Author(s) 2023. Creative Commons licence and your intended use is not permitted by statutory regulation or exceeds the permitted use, you will need to obtain permission directly from the copyright holder. To view a copy of this licence, visit (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/).
The COVID-19 pandemic brought about an increased reliance on the Internet for various daily activities. Given the known digital divide, it is important to understand whether older adults changed their Internet use patterns, but current evidence is limited to cross-sectional studies. This study documents changes in frequency and types of Internet use among older adults from before to shortly after the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic (2018/2019 to June/July 2020), and the factors predicting regular use during these early days of the pandemic. Using data on 6,840 adults aged 50 + from the nationally representative English Longitudinal Study of Ageing, we apply longitudinal fixed-effects models to examine within-individual changes in Internet use behaviour. There was no change in the likelihood of daily Internet use between 2018/2019 and June/July 2020, despite the increased digitalisation of services over the pandemic. Daily use in June/July 2020 was negatively related to age, neighbourhood deprivation, and loneliness, and positively related to partnership status, education, employment, income, and organisation membership. Using the Internet for making calls and getting information about Government services increased, which was important given the social restrictions and overall uncertainty. However, Internet use for finding health-related information decreased. As the world moves towards digital alternatives post-pandemic, it is important to continually ensure older adults are not at risk of exclusion.
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